Network Associates loses shrink-wrap case

An article in the New York Times today heralds the latest small blow in favor of consumers.

It appears that Network Associates had a clause in the shrink-wrap license agreement that required that "The customer will not publish reviews of this product without prior consent from Network Associates Inc."

According to the company, they just wanted to make sure that people didn't review "old" software and therefore give "misleading" information.

As a software author for many years, I can understand the want to have people review your most recent software, so as to reduce the number of bugs (theoretically) that get reported in the review.

However, the problem with this kind of constraint is that a review of an old, bug-laden piece of software is a valid review. It may not show how the software is now, but any reasonable reviewer should state what version of the software they reviewed up-front. What it does show is that the software was bad before. If you read a newer review (or advertisement) and you believe that the software is getting better, you may want to reward the authors by giving them money.

For my money, I would much rather know what a company's history is for bringing out quality software. If every x.0 version from a company is very poor, then I don't want to be buying x.0 until that changes.

Nice try, Network Associates...